Muscle-bound Martin Dawes has his sights set on glory as he travels to the continent for a prestigious bodybuilding competition next week.
The Seaham-based plasterer, 32, has qualified for the 8th Arnold Classic Europe event, named in honour of action film legend Arnold Schwarezenegger, in Barcelona at the end of this month.
Martin is now hard at work six days each week honing his physique ahead of the contest.
“I’ve been going to the gym since I was 15, but it’s only in the last two years that I’ve been competing,” said Martin, who is supported by fiancee Hannah Redgrave, 25.
“I suppose I was influenced by social media and thought I’d give things a go and it’s gone from there.
“I’m pretty strict with my training, so I’ll go the gym at 4.15am for an hour doing my cardio workout, then I go to work for the day, followed by a weights sessions.
“My last proper workout will be on Monday and from then on I’ll be pretty much carb-loading up until the competition.”
As well as sacrificing much of his free time, Martin, who trains alongside pal Ben Cowie, 25, at Pure Gym in Sunderland and Hammer Strength in Peterlee, has to adhere to a diet plan for months before the competition.
And there will be no let up once he returns home from Spain, with further events lined up.
“My first show was only in September 2016 and the British finals were two months later,” said Martin, who is coached by Kevin Black.
“Once I qualified for the British finals, I managed to qualfy for the Arnolds.
“The big thing is that if I do well at the Arnolds, I’m hoping I’ll be able to turn professional.
“The British final for the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation is only two weeks later in Nottingham.
“My goal ultimately is to turn professional and do this as a career.
“You can compete in America or on the European circuit which really interests me if I’m able to.”
The Arnold Classic in Barcelona takes place from Friday, September 28, to Sunday, September 30.